Earlier this week, we posted the first look at the upcoming Android Play Store app v4.4. As it turns out, besides sporting a new look and a secret message to the teardown team, the updated Play Store is strongly hinting at another new arrival - one we've been waiting for since March. And now we have the updated name for it - Google Play Newsstand.

March 2013: Google Play News

But first, allow me to refresh your memory. Back in March of this year, we got a tip about several interesting bits of Javascript and CSS code inside the web version of the Play Store. The code hinted at the advent of Google Play News - a digital newspaper counterpart to Play Magazines. Magazines are purple, and Play News was supposed to be yellow. The code also suggested that you could purchase individual news issues or start subscriptions.


Following our revelation, Ron's teardowns went on high alert for any signs of Play News in upcoming Play Store builds, but to our surprise, we haven't heard a peep about it for over 7 months. Until Play Store v4.4.

October 2013: Google Play Newsstand

Here is what I have found during the Play Store 4.4 APK teardown.

  1. What used to be called Google Play News in the website code has been now renamed to Google Play Newsstand.
  2. Since the code is now inside the Play Store APK, I am fairly sure Google has decided to move forward with the digital news service after all, and it may be, in fact, nearing launch.
  3. If you don't have the Play Newsstand app, the Play Store will instruct you to download it, just like it does with Play Movies, for instance.
  4. There is a high chance that the Play Newsstand app will take the place of Play Magazines, meaning Play Magazines will turn into Play Newsstand, and we won't have two separate apps that both kind of do the same thing. The code suggests it in a number of places, but it continues to mention Magazines as well, so there's still a chance we'll have two apps. However, I think we're simply seeing both Magazines and Newsstand mentions because the Play Store needs to robustly handle all situations.
  5. A free trial will be offered.
  6. My Newsstand will be the relevant area with your newspapers and magazines, similar to My Apps, etc.
  7. Here's the introduction text: "Your favorite magazines and news are right here on Google Play. Pick up the latest issues or try out a free trial subscription. Read instantly with the Play Newsstand app, even offline."

And now, the supporting evidence:

<string name="newsstand_download_required">To continue, you need the latest Play Newsstand app.</string>
<string name="widget_newsstand_now_playing">My Newsstand</string>
<string name="how_to_newsstand_app">Open the Play Newsstand app</string>
<string name="warm_welcome_try_newsstand_app">Try Newsstand app</string>
<string name="warm_welcome_install_newsstand_app">Install Newsstand app</string>
<string name="warm_welcome_enable_newsstand_app">Enable Newsstand app</string>
<string name="warm_welcome_title_newsstand">Check out the latest magazines and news</string>
<string name="warm_welcome_description_newsstand">Your favorite magazines and news are right here on Google Play. Pick up the latest issues or try out a free trial subscription. Read instantly with the Play Newsstand app, even offline.</string>
<string name="content_description_thumbnail_newsstand">Image of newsstand cover %1$s</string>
<string name="no_results_for_query_newsstand">No newsstand results found for "%1$s". Extending the search to the entire Store.</string>

I am not sure when Google Play Newsstand is going to be announced and whether such an announcement will coincide with Nexus and KitKat releases, but it's most definitely approaching.

P.S. I'd also like to clarify something. When I heard that the New York Google Play event was not related to hardware, I started suspecting that perhaps Google was going to announce Play Newsstand there instead. However, a subsequent update from a credible source put an end to any chance of that happening since there would be no news announced at the event at all. It seems to be generic in nature and targeted at mainstream press, which explains why most tech publications never got the invitation in the first place.